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Five Takeaways for Planners from the Revised AdvaMed Code

Are you up to date on ethics rules for medical-technology companies as they interact with healthcare providers at meetings and training events?

On June 1, revisions to the Advanced Medical Technology Association (AdvaMed) code of ethics went into effect. Notable for meeting professionals, the updates include clarifications around requirements and best practices for meetings and trainings with healthcare professionals.

AdvaMed’s code, officially known as the Code of Ethics on Interactions with Health Care Professionals, applies to medical-technology companies and is similar to the ethics guidelines established by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), which applies to pharmaceutical companies. Both are voluntary guidelines designed to promote ethical relationships with HCPs, and both align with a variety of U.S. laws and regulations. As such, non-compliance with the codes can signal potential misconduct to enforcement authorities.

A National Law Review article on changes to the 2022 AdvaMed guidelines provides a thorough overview, including a lengthy chart tracking revisions to the code in 2009, 2020, and 2022.

While medical-technology companies may provide HCPs with meals and refreshments as part of their education and training events, those extras must be subordinate to the purpose of the meetings. The 2022 revisions underscore that point, providing clarifications related to holding meetings at hotels, restaurants, and online.

Here are five takeaways for meeting professionals:

In reaction to a late 2020 special fraud alert issued by the Office of Inspector General, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, that noted alcohol a “suspect characteristic” at speaker programs, AdvaMed “seeks to assist industry with developing safeguards to ensure offerings are less likely to raise concerns,” the NLR article says. The revised code suggests several controls that planners should consider related to providing alcohol at company meetings and programs. These include having per-person drink limits, per-drink spending limitations, and/or restrictions on the type of alcohol served. AdvaMed is not as strict on the issue as PhRMA, which advised against any alcohol at speaker programs.

• When a restaurant is selected as the venue, planners need to consider whether there is a “legitimate need or reason for holding a meeting at a particular venue and if the location is appropriate for the exchange of information, among other considerations,” the NLR article explains, also noting that “certain practices, such as paying for guests to attend, are not permitted.”

• When programs are held virtually, AdvaMed suggests that medical-technology companies have processes to track attendance that ensure it is the HCP attendees who receive the meals and refreshments. Generally, NLR notes, home delivery is not permitted.

• The 2022 revisions emphasize that entertainment and recreational activities are not permitted as part of medical-technology companies’ interactions with HCPs.

• In its section on travel lodging, the 2022 code encourages planners to consider whether their educational objectives can be met through a virtual event.

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